A livestock identification and traceability system will soon be piloted in the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD) region, following discussions at a workshop held last week (4-5 February) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to review existing national systems and identify practical options towards a harmonized system for the region.
The IGAD region is home to 336 million ruminants and the livestock sector contributes significantly to the economy of countries in the region and to the livelihoods of millions of pastoralists and smallholder livestock keepers and traders.
Regional harmonization of livestock identification and traceability systems, based on international standards of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), would improve coordination of surveillance and control of transboundary animal diseases, thereby enhancing regional trade in livestock and livestock products.
Some 35 participants attended the workshop, drawn from both the public and private sectors. Tanzania, although not a member of IGAD, was also represented at the meeting. In addition to chief veterinary officers and national experts in livestock identification and traceability from IGAD member countries, representatives were present from the following institutions and programs:
- African Union – Interafrican Bureau on Animal Resources (AU-IBAR),
- Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD)
- CNFA South Sudan Cattle Program
- East African Community,
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI),
- IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD),
- Kenya Livestock Marketing Council,
- Kenya Meat Commission, and
- Northeast Africa Livestock Council.
Presentations were made on the status of livestock production and trade in the region, an ongoing project on standard methods and procedures in animal health, and the status of livestock identification and traceability systems in the respective countries in the IGAD region.
The Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) project is coordinated by AU-IBAR and IGAD with financial support from the East Africa regional program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It is a four year project (2012-2016) being carried out in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania to support harmonization and coordination of disease surveillance, and the prevention and control of trade-related transboundary animal diseases.
Among the expected outputs of the SMP-AH project are:
- the establishment of a framework for surveillance and control of trade-related animal diseases;
- harmonization of laboratory testing procedures for the priority animal diseases in the region;
- the establishment of standards for regional quarantine stations; and
- enhanced technical and coordination capacity of participating countries and the IGAD region at large.
The presentations on the status of livestock identification and traceability systems in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania covered the current activities in the respective countries, the interventions that the countries would need to improve the already existing systems, the foreseen challenges in the implementation of the proposed system, and the steps that can be taken towards regional harmonization of systems in the IGAD region.
During the discussions that followed, participants were able to share their experiences and learn from other countries. In addition, a status review of animal identification and traceability systems in other countries in Africa – in particular Namibia and Botswana that have highly specialized systems – and in the United States of America helped to give a wider outlook on continental and global scale.
Based on the plenary presentations and discussions, the participants identified the livestock identification and traceability options that can be used to design a regional system. In order of priority, the options are as follows:
- Visual tamperproof ear tags with ISO coding
- Visual tamperproof ear tags (with ISO coding) plus hot-iron branding in insecure areas
- Radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags
- RFID bolus (for ruminants)
- Microchip implants (for controlled trials) with hot-iron branding to deter theft
From the presentations, discussions and consensus reached, the workshop came up with the following general recommendations:
- Develop a pilot project on a livestock identification and traceability system for the IGAD region (including Tanzania) based on the criteria listed below:
- Areas with identified target market and export facilities such as quarantine stations and abattoirs
- Areas with confirmed security concerns
- Areas with cross border movement
- Areas with fairly advanced livestock identification and traceability systems
- Areas with confirmed animal health concerns
- Areas with major livestock trade routes
- Develop an IGAD umbrella body that would oversee the implementation of the livestock identification and traceability system in the region.
- Develop guidelines, procedures and regional coordination mechanisms by the umbrella body in conjunction with states that have current and proposed livestock identification and traceability activities.
- Encourage international and regional organizations such as OIE, FAO and AU-IBAR to hasten the development, finalization and dissemination of guidelines on livestock identification and traceability systems to assist the developing countries.
- Encourage the member states to establish and strengthen their livestock identification and traceability systems as an important tool for trade and disease control.
- AU-IBAR and IGAD should organize exposure visits to areas with reasonably advanced livestock identification and traceability systems.
For more information about this work, contact Florence Mutua (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bernard Bett (email@example.com) of ILRI, or James Wabacha of AU-IBAR (firstname.lastname@example.org).